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Beautiful, Heartfelt Tortilla Sun

June 27, 2010

Tortilla Sun

written by Jennifer Cervantes

Chronicle Books, 2010
YA / middle fiction chapter book

I love Young Adult books.  I read at least one a week. But, I haven’t read one like Tortilla Sun that touched me so deeply since Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez and Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli.

I almost don’t want to tell you any more about Tortilla Sun so you can discover it for yourself.  Almost.

I’ll tell you a little.

Izzy’s life was a series of houses, sadness and secrets – why wouldn’t her mom tell her about her dad who died before she was born? Why did they always move?

When Izzy’s mom unexpectedly sends Izzy to her Nana’s in New Mexico, whom she barely knows, Izzy lands in a new culture and discovers her past, present and future. Just as Izzy learns to make tortillas with practice and patience, she also learns the story of her dad, her mom, and ultimately her own story.

The wisdom mixed with grief mixed with love creates a beautiful story — I cried and celebrated. And, cried some more. Cervantes’ writing is lyrical and sensual. See for yourself here and below.

“I felt a pang of envy that Mateo had roots in one place. A place to call home. Maybe that’s my Mom always moved. She worried we might grow roots.”

“You being here is magic. A hummingbird’s wings, the buzzing bee, the way the sun rises every day no matter what. That’s magic.”

Every new day pushed scraps of sadness out of our lives and invited little bits of joy back in.”

Sometimes we long for what the world tells us is missing, and miss what is right in front of us.”

This is my pick for the 2010 Newbery Award.

Read Jennifer’s ideas on how to encourage your children to write on Imagination Soup.

Book Extensions: A reader’s guide with questions is available from Cervantes’ website.

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